Dark matter is one of the great puzzles of nature: according to current estimates, more than 85% of the matter in the universe is in the form of dark (only gravitating) matter, of which today we know nothing. Any discovery of new physics will be related directly or indirectly to dark matter: by discovering a dark matter particle or by measuring fundamental properties in models providing a dark matter candidate. Dark matter is also likely related to gravitational waves and multi-messenger astroparticle physics. The International Research Laboratory (IRL) between the CNRS/IN2P3 and the Helmholtz association which will focus on the theme of dark matter.


Both in France and in Germany, there is a vast number of dark matter related activities in theoretical and experimental physics, and in particle, astroparticle, and hadron/nuclear physics. Dark matter research requires pushing the boundaries of the scientifically and technologically feasible. To address various challenges in dark matter physics the IRL is structured in six topics: direct dark matter searches, multi-messenger particle physics and gravitational waves, novel accelerator concepts, computing and data science, particle detector technologies, and theoretical physics. The IRL a laboratory situated outside France at DESY, which will acts as the scientific and administrative hub, and extends over three other Helmholtz centres (FZJ, GSI, and KIT). The lab acts as a centre for french-german collaboration in areas of research connected to dark matter in which a significant impact of combined forces is to be expected on the timescale of a few years. The IRL is designed as a dynamic entity, offering a stimulating scientific environment in which new ideas can flourish and be integrated into the IRL as projects. The IRL offers resources for the organisation of workshops, training events, and travel. While the experimental and theoretical projects encompassed by the topics are funded and staffed by IN2P3, Helmholtz, and their partners, the IRL will help to gather additional resources in national and international calls (or other similar opportunities).

Dark Matter Searches

Gravitational Waves and Multi-Messengers

Innovative Accelerator Concepts

  • MadMax
  • Darwin
  • Future Projects
  • Future Projects
  • Plasma Wakefield Acceleration
  • Laser driven Hadron Acceleration
  • Future Projects

Computing and Data Science

Particle Detectors

Theoretical Physics

  • Precision and Machine Learning
  • High Precision for Dark Matter
  • Future Projects
  • Tracking Detectors
  • Calorimeters
  • Germanium Detectors
  • Future Projects
  • Dark Matter beyond WIMP
  • Dark Sector searches in Neutrino Experiments
  • Dark Matter, Gravity and Cosmology
  • FIPs
  • Probing Strongly Interacting BSM
  • Nuclear Matter- Theory



The staff of the lab is employed by the CNRS, DESY, GSI and KIT.

Steering Committee


  • Reynald Pain/Berrie Giebels (CNRS-IN2P3)
  • Patrice Verdier (CNRS-IN2P3,Co-Chair)
  • Vincent Poireau (CNRS-IN2P3)
  • Laurent Vacavant (CNRS-IN2P3)
  • Beate Heinemann (DESY)
  • Hans Stroeher (FZ Juelich, Co-Chair)
  • Yvonne Leifels (GSI)
  • Marc Weber (KIT)


  • Thomas Schoerner (DESY)
  • Dirk Zerwas (CNRS-IN2P3)